The ACT Legislative Assembly has a number of standing committees that investigate (inquiry), record (transcript of evidence) and report (report). One annual inquiry is the Estimates. The Standing Committee On Planning, Transport And City Services (PTCS Committee) is one such committee. Here are the sections from their report relating to cycle infrastructure and maintenance.
The standards for the maintenance of ACT community paths is famously documented in the Guidelines for community path repairs and maintenance at 30 June 2012. Even without getting off your bike, as cyclist, it is clear to observe that the criteria for intervention is often exceeded.
False is the claim that we have 1000 km of bike paths in Canberra. Even with the most optimistic estimate, only 568 km of paths meets the minimum requirements for cycling, and the asphalt paths are about half that. In the ACT we have 327 km of bitumen paths, 235 km of concrete paths, and 6 km with pavers – total 568 km. In comparison, we have 5900 lane kilometres of roads.
There are maintenance targets for roads and maintenance targets for paths. How do they compare? We need to distinguish between filling potholes and resurfacing. Resurfacing is better. Similarly, community paths can be repaired superficially, or resurfaced for replaced. Unlike roads, paths are quite thin and replacement and resurfacing are quite similar processes.
The Act Auditor-General’s 2017 Report on community paths is damming and provides plenty of warning that the ACT Government needs to get on top of path maintenance. The most obvious thing is the lack of regular inspections.
Using ACT Government data from their portal and 2017 ACT Auditor General report, canberra.bike has estimated that the maintenance cost on the ACT Government concrete paths will lie between $302-683 million by 2030. The ACT Auditor General recommends making provisions for this.
People need paths. We all want good paths. Maintenance is expensive, boring and thankless. Active Streets is a budget measure to improve the paths in older suburbs, particularly around shopping centres and schools. Active Streets should not be confused with Active Travel Streets.