Recently, Launceston Street and Callam Street were closed for the construction of the Woden Light Rail terminus. The construction of the CIT will follow. Until 2025, Callam Street will remain a construction site, and when it opens, will be accessible to buses only. During the construction, the area will be less permeable for cyclist, but should be better afterwards.
Most of us have heard of the light rail and most know that the construction is going to cause disruption. Light Rail Disruption Survey (13 December 2021) tells us that most want to continue driving, and active travel and public transport are for other people to consider – not me. ACT Transport has a problem.
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.
Cycle corridors are the mechanism by which strategic assets (public realm space) can be secured for good, fast cycling infrastructure between town centres for commuting cyclists, thus providing an alternative to driving. The cycle highways will not be finished quickly and they do not have to be. However, they will never be built unless the corridors are reserved and preserved.
On the 32nd anniversary of the first day of sitting of the Legislative Assembly, Active travel was discussed during question time. This time the topic was Gungahlin town centre. Below active travel in the hansard from 11 May 2021.
In Europe, one common way to get to the nearest light rail stop is with the bike. All you need is a path, dedicated bike parking area when you get there. Woden light rail terminus won’t offer any of that.
The Australian Infrastructure Audit 2019 expects cost of road congestion in Canberra to increase to $504 million in 2031, up from $289 million in 2016.
So much money is spent on roads. Here is a comparison of the investment in road improvement (duplications and widening) with other forms of transport. As cyclists, we are interested in bike paths, but the light rail is included, too.
Estate development is a long and complicated process. Active travel can be lost in the process, buried under other priorities. We need to get it right. Should active travel infrastructure fall short, it will be expensive to fix. A generation would grow up being chauffeured around rather than riding to school or friends. This is a real culture change barrier.
Paint on the road does not count as bike infrastructure. Cyclists are not safe on busy roads. Grade separated cycle infrastructure is required. The consultation for the Light Rail Stage 2 offered an opportunity to rethink the route for cycling.