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?
Why wait until the driver’s licence? We can teach children safe cycling in school. In the Netherlands, the school children take a traffic exam on their bikes when they are just 11 years old. With a rite of passage on bicycles, are we surprised that the Netherlands is a cycling nation. The nature of a rite of passage is there is something to celebrate!
We must recognise that in low cycling countries our fears have a large impact on our cycling behaviour and our instincts (feelings) are poorly tuned to the real risk of cycling. To increase women’s cycling participation, we must therefore target building confidence and providing women with real cycling experience. This equates to an adaption process of venturing to try the unfamiliar and building new habits. A positive experience (enjoyment) makes it more likely that we will cycle again. A mishap in the early stages will discourage further cycling. This is why good cycle infrastructure makes a difference, as it creates a forgiving environment to cycle.
The Submission by the ACT Young Planners Committee of the Planning Institute of Australia to the Moving Canberra: Integrated Transport Strategy 2019-2045 provide a number of case studies, one of which, is the power of nudge and behavioural economics (behavioural insights).
Amongst children, boys and girls, the participation rate for cycling is the same, which is known as “parity”. Amongst women in the ACT, and typical for low cycling countries, men are much more likely to cycle than women. The question should be, perhaps, not why women cycle less, but rather why girls in adolescence stop cycling.
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.