ACT Labor’s cycling policy: 2020 ACT Election

ACT Labor never took cycling seriously at the 2020 ACT Election. Parties prioritise what is important to them and ACT Labor did waste a breath on cycling at this election. The ACT Labor Policy Position Statement was released early in the election and discussed here. Reading the cycling section creates a sense of déjà vu. It all seemed so familiar. Perhaps it is from the 2016 Election? However, COVID-19 was mentioned, so it must be 2020.

Last updated 7/10/2020

ACT Labor final made a statement “Labor’s city-wide plan for active travel” after the polls had opened. The offer is underwhelming. $20 million funding is not enough and considering their COVID-19 stimulus pot is worth $4,900 million, the $20 million offered for cycling is a rather insulting (0.4%).

There is not much cycling in this ACT Labor Policy Position Statement (Canberra Labor cycling policy) despite its 82 pages length. Most concerning ist that ACT Labor has no specifics, either in this document or in announcements since.

What we stand for

What does it have to say about cycling?

“We are committed to tackling climate change by investing in public transport transitioning to zero emissions, plus more footpaths and bike paths to help make the switch to walking and cycling easy for as many people as possible.”

ACT Labor Policy Position Statement, 2020, page 13
Photo by Pedro Figueras on Pexels.com

What we have achieved this term

Active travel
We have invested in walking and cycling as a key way to make our city more liveable, by:
• Expanding the role of the Active Travel office and schools-based active travel initiatives.
• Introduced school crossing supervisors to make it easier for kids to walk or ride to school.
• Investing in key missing links across our shared path network through major investments in cycling infrastructure, including the Belconnen Bikeway, Heysen Street link, Corinna Street separated cycleway, Flemington Road shared path extension and Tuggeranong Town Centre cycle improvements.
• Building new signalised intersections and crossings to support pedestrian and cycle priority and safety.

ACT Labor Policy Position Statement, 2020, page 15

The missing links here were largely promised back at the 2016 ACT Election and the pledges yet to be finished four years later.

Project FinishedHistory
Belconnen Bikewayno2016 pledge
Heyson Streetno2016 pledge
Flemington Roadyesreconstructed after a road widening (light rail)
Tuggeranong Town Centreno
Kuringa Driveno2016 pledge

The projects have not been completed in a timely way and it demonstrates a lack of ambition.

Executive Officer at Pedal Power ACT John Armstrong, described Labor’s plans for Canberra as not big enough, saying, “If we want to be better than the rest of Australia, we have to take some bigger steps. Hanging your hat on what [the rest of Australia already has] is not big enough, is not strong enough, won’t make it, it won’t cut the mustard, we need to be able to be bigger, bolder and stronger.”

The RiotAct, 28 September 2016
Photo by Chevanon Photography on Pexels.com

What we will continue to do

Active travel
A re-elected ACT Labor Government will:
• Update the Active Travel Framework to provide coordinated active travel networks across the Territory.
• Build new, strategic cycling and pedestrian connections.
• Invest in maintaining the existing trunk cycle path network to ensure that these ‘cycle highways’ receive as much maintenance as our roads.
• Build all new major roads with either on-road cycle paths and/or off-road shared paths.
• Continue supporting school communities with funding for the Physical Activity Foundation and the Active Streets for Schools program.
• Continue to support the role of the ACT Government’s Active Travel office and develop a public education campaign about the practical measures people can take to get started.
• Trial new ways of using roads that most efficiently move people and goods, while better supporting sustainable transport modes. This work will also look at best practice road intersection design and protected cycle way design from around the world, to inform trials in areas supported by the ACT Movement and Place Framework that prioritise walking and cycling.

ACT Labor Policy Position Statement, 2020, page 15
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Conclusion

Fast Track produced little infrastructure that is suitable for cycling.

“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.”

Fast Track is too slow, canberra.bike, 8/8/2020

The big projects pledged back at the last ACT Election were delayed and are not completed. The scope of the Belconnen Bikeway has been reduced. The Benjamin Way segment is now uncertain.

The capital expenditure on transport has largely continued the historic trend of building more roads. More recently light rail has picked up. Of those transport projects currently on the table, only about 1% of the expenditure is cycling related and MOST of those projects were promised in 2016. The Conversation recently noted this is not untypical for Australia, but hopelessly inadequate.

ACT Labor’s words are hollow. They have had two decades to prove themselves. Active travel standards have existed as a draft from over a decade. The ideas are not new. They are dragging their feet. They have promised no targets, no budget and no specific goals or projects. It leaves them endless room to exploit the goodwill and trust of the voters interested in a better cyling infrastructure. If ACT Labor is judged on its history, we can expect more of the same with this policy, and for actively and visibly supporting cycling infrastructure in the ACT that has sadly been very little.

Change Leaders cycle. Find an ACT Labor MLA that rides to work. 😦

Photo by Elti Meshau on Pexels.com

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