Liberals want cycling to be road-free by 2030

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Canberra Liberals made the announcement yesterday on ABC News and The Conservation Council ACT Region Transport Forum. Canberra CityNews published the key points. The ACT Greens are guided by a seeming lack of cycling enthusiasts, and ACT Labor by two decades of failure. Here is what the Canberra Liberals have to offer.

Transport policies (16/9/2020)

Early days yet but this is where they stand. (source: The Conservation Council ACT Region Transport Forum, 15/9/2020)

TopicACT GreensACT LaborACT Liberal
Cycling networkyes – $5 million
Local transport <5kmyesyes
Pedestrian focusyesyes
More parkingyes
Electric vehicleyesyes
Light rail yesyes
Duplicationsyesyes
The Conservation Council ACT Region Transport Forum, 15/9/2020

What’s up with ACT Labor?

In 19 years of government, ACT Labor have failed to increase the cycling participation above 3%. The investment in recent years is skewed towards light rail and road duplications, and sadly cycling gets less than 1%. ACT Labor promised much but delivered too little for cyclists. New estate developments continue to support the car mode of transport, and with local bike paths within suburb boundaries only. As we know, this does not drive an increase in commuting to work. It’s great for taking the kids for a meander around the ‘urb!

Facebook / Cyclisme Féminin
Facebook / Cyclisme Féminin

Where are the active and visible cyclists in the ACT Greens?

The ACT Greens seem to believe we live locally and also work locally. This will not happen for a long time in the ACT. The services are distributed and many live in Gungahlin but work in – and drive down daily to – Tuggeranong. The ACT Greens have the same course for the next 4 years that they have had for the last 4 years. They plan to build local pedestrain networks that you can ride on (see ACT Legislative Assembly Parlimentary Agreement). Again, this does not encourage people who ride bikes to commute to work on a daily basis.

We know what makes great cycling cities. Just turn to the Netherlands and Denmark. There is a reason why we call it Best Practice. The volumes of research and work done over decades for cycling and urban planning are being ignored. Why then bother with R&D and science? Rather than looking at nations where most people cycle, they plan to engage with those that do not cycle in Canberra and ask them to justify why they do not. Asking laypeople will never give you expert input and professional outcomes. Making excuses will not increase cycling participation. Where is professional change leadership in all of this?

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Liberals want cycling road-free

The paradox is that because the Canberra Liberals like cars they propose to give cyclists a separated cycling network. Drivers like to have the roads cylists free. Putting bikes on separate bike paths improves the road infrastructure as it increases safety and capacity. This makes the Canbera Liberals strange allies.

Below are quotes from the Canberra CityNews article, “Liberals want cycling to be road-free by 2030” (15 September 2020).

A CANBERRA Liberals government will make the ACT’s entire cycle path network road-free by 2030.

The road-free network, according to the Liberals, will connect all town centres and major employment hubs with dedicated, off-road cycle paths to ensure a safer, less stressful cycling journey. They say this commitment will improve the safety of cyclists, and encourage cycling as a transport alternative for shorter to medium distance journeys, reducing traffic congestion on roads.

Liberals want cycling to be road-free by 2030, Canberra CityNews, 15 September 2020
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So far so good.

In its first budget, a Canberra Liberals government will commit $500,000 to a comprehensive feasibility and design study to assess the logistical, economic, technical, legal and scheduling challenges and considerations. They say they will dedicate the first year of government to significant community consultation across Canberra.

The Liberals have also will committed $5 million to improve cycling facilities at transport interchanges and other major stops, and will include increasing secure bicycle storage facilities and change rooms to encourage more Canberrans to use cycling in their public transport journey.

Liberals want cycling to be road-free by 2030, Canberra CityNews, 15 September 2020

The biggest problem here is that the funding is not enough. It needs to be ten times greater that the $5 million allocated. The Liberals have estimated that 100km needs be build. In Melbourne that would cost approximately $100 million. The other issue is that the policy does not consider a mechanism for a transistion from driving to cycling.

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The Canbera Liberal spokesperson nails the problem:

Labor’s disjointed, ad hoc approach to our cycle network makes it very difficult for cyclists to complete a journey without using major roads,” she says.“Our plan to create an entire cycle network independent of roads by 2030 will enable more Canberrans to take up cycling as a viable form of transport.“

Liberals want cycling to be road-free by 2030, Canberra CityNews, 15 September 2020

As a cyclist, what is not to like?

Photo by Damir Mijailovic on Pexels.com
Photo by Damir Mijailovic on Pexels.com

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