The Chris Boardman interview by FareCity introduces cycling leadership. Something lacking in the ACT. Chris is not the first to say such things. Brent Toderian has said similar things. In a leadership void, however, cycling gets nowhere. That is why the ACT needs an Active Transport Commissioner.
We do not have an accounting standard for active travel and need one. Here we consider how one could be created that permits comparison of active travel spend across directorates and budget years, and discerning between cycle and pedestrian infrastructure. Canberra.bike calls for an Active Travel Reporting Standard.
Few items in the budget are directly related to active travel. The new investment in Active Travel for the period 2021-2025 is just $17.370 million. The analysis of the TCCS Budget Statements. Considering cycling is a congestion buster and has health and wellbeing benefits for both children and adults, one would have expected cycling investment to feature strongly in this budget.
An interesting list of upcoming projects in the ACT in 2021-2022 (stand 20 Jul 2021), including the new suburbs of Jacka (Gungahlin) and Whitlam (Molonglo Valley), and duplications such as Athllon Drive. The list is sorted by procurement start. Indicative package values are included for most projects (others are marked Not For Publication ie NFP)
The peak period traffic chaos around Molonglo Valley would indicate that we have made a mistake. The development of this Future Urban Area has demonstrated that we still do not prioritise the development of cycle and active travel infrastructure. Molonglo was chosen as it was close to Civic, however we have not seen the take-up of cycling for transport in the Molonglo Valley but rather car dependency. To move cycling forward, we need to develop the cycle infrastructure independently of roads. What went wrong in the Molonglo Valley?
The ACT Report, National Walking and Cycling Participation Survey 2021, now the responsibility of the Cycling and Walking Australia and New Zealand (CWANZ), confirms what we have long suspected. Cycling as a mode of transport has not increased in the ACT. In the last 10 years, there has been no statistical significant change in the cycling participation. What should we do differently.
When we walk the halls of Planning, Transport and Legislative Assembly in the ACT today, we can be sure that none of those people we see will be there in 30 years. Community groups and councils lobby with MLAs and mandarins, who temporarily fill the roles. Building a cycle network is a long term task, requiring forward-thinking past the current political cycle. The cycle network will take 30 years to build. In that time, Canberra’s population will almost double. City builders think in decades and not years. Cycle corridors reserve the space to build that cycle network.
Molonglo 3 East has been give an optimistic timeline for completion by 2041. The future is wildly uncertain. Projects run routinely longer than planned. This is generally true but certainly true for the ACT Government. We have good intent, but building things is complicated. Environmental approvals can add years to the process and are unpredictable. Recent information on the environmental approval process for the Deep Creek Pond in Whitlam sheds light on this.
Molonglo 3 East is an area bigger than the built area of Write, Coombs and Denman Prospect combined. Just Stage 1 of Molonglo 3 East will likely take just as long to build as Whitlam stages 1, 2, and 3. Molonglo 3 East makes Whitlam look small. Five years for Molonglo 3 East Stage 1 and 20 years for Stages 1 to 4 in total. Stage 5 will come last and likely only after the East West Arterial is finished. Way off, in any case. By that time, Woden CIT and Light Rail Stage 2 (Woden) is finished. Canberra will not be the same place.
The Molonglo 3 East Future Urban Area will open up new ways to ride to Belconnen from south to north around 2030-2035. Austroads recommends gradients below 5% for comfortable riding. Direct routes are otherwise preferred. What route options does Molonglo 3 East provide? We consider routes from John Gorton Drive Bridge to Kippax Group Centre and Belconnen Town Centre.