ACT Election: the end is tomorrow

The canberra.bike summary of the 2020 ACT Election. 2020 does not appear to be a year for political change – there is just simply too much going on. The big parties are holding their fortifications and nobody seems to want to venture out. A few knights are taunting those on the walls. For the most part, the voters have already chosen their keep.

Last updated 16/10/2020 and the final update as the decision for this round will be clear in a matter of days.

canberra.bike is advocating for all kinds of cycling in the ACT. What will come out of this election for the cyclist? The election has not been fought on active travel issues. The Inner South Election Forum discussion was the same as at the last two forums: mostly urban planning priorities, processes and NIMBY discussions. Our homes are important, so this makes sense, but it is not groundbreaking but rather business as usual.

Where does cycling stand?

TopicACT GreensCanberra
Progressives
ACT LaborCanberra Liberals
Best for cycling (ranked)1234
Funding for infrastructure (millions)$80$20$5
Cycling networkyes *yesyes 
Local transport <5kmyes *yesyes
Pedestrain focusyes *yesyes
More parkingyes
Electric vehiclesyesyesyes
Light railyesyesyes
Duplicationsyesyes
Mode share targets6% (2024)10% (2030)
Mountain bike tourismyesyes
e-Bike incentivisationyesyes
canberra.bike 2020 ACT Election round up. Mode share targets from Pedal Power ACT scorecards

Funding

The one single factor which has crippled the ACT cycling agenda is lack of funding. The Canberra Progressives have said that the transport budget should be split evenly between light rail/active travel, and roads. The amounts listed are totalled over four years (not per annum).

Investment (millions)Pledge 2016 Spent by 20202020 pledgeComment
ACT Greens$60$30$80best offer
ACT Labor$30$20too little
Canberra Liberals$5too little
2020 ACT Election: What the parties have pledged. Funding of cycling infrastructure in the ACT.
Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

Targets

Pedal Power ACT and The Conservation Council ACT is worried about this and so are we. Accountability is a big part of government and change and it is difficult to lobby with those in power when there is no objective measure and consistent reporting. The holes in the fence are currently too big and too easily filled with political rhetoric.

There need to be mode share targets. The targets need to statutory. We need a mode share monitoring program in the ACT and annual reporting in the ACT Legislative Assembly. The ACT Budget must include breakdowns of the projects for active travel and the maintenance spend on community paths (including bike paths). The pledge funds need to spent in the four years of the next term of office and COMPLETED IN THAT TIME. No kicking the can down the road as has happened in the last four years.

The current investment is flawed in that it does not include the long term costs of roads. Adding emissions into the equation would help to get the discussion back on track and the investment in alternate travel choices, particularly for commuting.

Mountain biking

Canberra is ideal for mountain biking. The recent Mountain Biking Tourism report is a good start. Without funds, mountain biking will languish as it has done for the last decade.

Without funding, nothing will happen. None of the parties have committed to funding the development of mountain biking tourism in the ACT. Now is the time for them to do so.

Business as usual

Canberra Liberals dodged the light rail bullet. It was a close call for a moment. Their weakness in the elections appears to be a lack of policy depth. Costings came very late. There are plenty of conservative voters in the ACT, particularly in the south.

ACT Labor have gone to these polls with the strategy that the next term will be the same as the last one. ACT Labor voters will vote as usual. ACT Labor has its strengths and priorities but cycling is not one of them. They have not propelled cycling into the future in almost 20 years, and I cannot see it happening in this one.

ACT Greens are an enigma. I have never been able to work them out. Libertarians are not going to like their prescriptive ways. They couch their policies in a language that no conservative can understand. They have plenty of energy and their ideas are well researched despite many thinking otherwise. From the work canberra.bike has done over two years, the ACT Greens Cycling Revolution is most likely to produce results for the cyclist. The ACT Greens are good for cycling but I think they will never get the conservative vote and remain marginalised. 

Canberra Progressives are interesting. Whether they succeed will depend a lot on the Murrumbidgee. John Knight is a breath of fresh air, speaks well and is well informed about urban planning – not so much of what we have done in Australia but how to do it properly, of which there are plenty of examples around the world. I do not know what he did during his career but he got around. Canberra.bike would like to hear him speak a lot more. The best way to do this is to put him in the ACT Legislative Assembly.

Photo by Bess Hamiti on Pexels.com

What next?

COVID is not a year for political change – people are tired and it seems they want stability. The next Assembly is likely to look a lot like the current one. The Canberra north/south political divide is not likely to change. Canberra still has the feel of the big country town, and starting to realise it cannot stay that way.

The debates in the Community Councils are over. Voting ends this weekend. Pedal Power ACT has finally released its 2020 ACT Election scorecard. ACT Labor was very slow to make a statement on cycling.

Photo by Melissa on Pexels.com

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