A plan is as good as its execution

There does not appear to be a lack of ideas for a better cycle network for Canberra but we have poor performance building them. The recent Fast Track program demonstrated this. The paths that were built were mostly below the minimum standard for cycling and unfortunately did not form networks.

Designing a cycling network by asking people to “suggest a path” brings with it the question, what to do with a list of unhelpful suggestions. The crowdsourced approach is great for stakeholder engagement but a disjointed “wish list” is unlikely to lead to cycling networks. Fast Track has demonstrated this.

In a landscape of changing political priorities, plans do not always turn out as expected.
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Gundaroo Drive bike path now open

The duplication of Gundaroo Drive has been finished for a while now. The bike path, part of the CBR Cycle Route C7, has taken longer to finish but it is now open, too. It is not a new path, as the old one was destroyed by the road widening work. This also happened with the Flemington Road path.

“The 2.5-kilometre duplication of Gundaroo Drive between Gungahlin Drive and the Barton Highway is complete, two years after it started construction.”

Gundaroo Drive duplication complete removes one more bottleneck, Dominic Giannini, The RiotACT, 25 June 2020
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CBR Cycle Route C7: two loops network

From Belconnen there are two ways to Gungahlin: the CBR C7 and the C1. Both are not new. They have existed as long as Gungahlin itself and form a loop through Kaleen. The strength of loops for navigation is that you can leave and join them wherever and whenever you like. This provides the cyclist with many options.

Combine the CBR Cycle Routes C7, C1 and C11 together and we have now two loops that form a network. Networks allow the CBR Cycle Routes to be used in many ways. This allows the consideration of a cycling network between town centres.

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CBR Cycle Route C11: one loop

The CBR Cycle Route C11 runs along Flemington Road from EPIC to Well Station Drive and forms one side of a triangle in a loop that connects Belconnen, Dickson and Mitchell. The strength of loops for navigation is that you can leave and join them wherever and whenever you like. This provides the cyclist with many options.

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Cycle highways for commuting

Addressed to the ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr

The ACT Government has recognised the importance of investment in capital projects as part of the stimulus to offset the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 health threat. In 2018 and 2019 the ACT Government released multiple policies to make Canberra a more liveable city, to combat the effects of climate change, and to prepare the city for a population of 500,000, who will need to commute to town centres and Civic across town twice daily. It is expected that our infrastructure will collapse under the peak period loads without the strategic investment in active travel and the construction of cycle highways. Even though it might still be the commonly held mental model, Canberra cannot still live by small city standards but rather mature into a regional metropolis.

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Belconnen Bikeway: finished in part

The construction of the Belconnen Bikeway started last year and some progress has been made. The separated bike and pedestrian paths along the old bus road are finished but not open. Construction has started on Emu Bank. The section through the University of Canberra is largely finished.

Update 6 February 2021 Belconnen Bikeway

The construction along Emu Bank is completed. However, the construction of the section promised at the 2016 ACT Election along Benjamin Way has not yet begun.

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CBR cycling: we have a plan

The “CBR Cycle Routes” are a network of cycle routes between Canberra’s town centres. They do not all exist yet, and if people do not know about them, they almost certainly never will. Cycle paths are not built without community support.

Background to the urban planning process is found here.

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Active Travel Streets: making cycling safer

The active travel vision is grand but difficult to reconcile with the infrastructure found in older suburbs. The ACT Government inherits the old but the old was built in different times with different problems. 

“The past is a foreign country and they do things differently there.”

source unknown

The ACT Government faces today’s problems with the infrastructure designed for yesteryear. Some cities have experienced a great fire. From the bare earth, the city can be rebuilt anew for modern times. The challenge of urban planning is another, to rebuild a living city. This is more akin to rebuilding a boat while you are sitting in it. It is not straight forward and creates anxiety. 

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Bicentennial National Trail between Hawker and Strathnairn

In 1988 the National Horse Trail was rejuvenated and relaunched as the Bicentennial National Trail. The Bicentennial National Trail extends from Queensland to Victoria. A section of it passes through the ACT. It is not to be confused with the Canberra Centenary Trail which came later and is only in the ACT. The Bicentennial National Trail and the Canberra Centenary Trail alignments are at times in close proximity and cross. Both pass through The Pinnacle Nature Reserve in Hawker, Belconnen, but one on the north side and the other on the south side. This ride was predominately on the Bicentennial National Trail but a section was on the Canberra Centenary Trail.

We explored the Bicentennial National Trail in Belconnen by bike. We had a mountain bike and one touring bike with fat tyres. In the muddy conditions, the mountain bike is the better option. It was soggy and pays off the trail were slippery. Canberra does not get much rain though, so we must be grateful. We joined the Bicentennial National Trail at Hawker and rode through to the new suburb of Strathnairn in Belconnen’s far west. Many have never heard of Strathnairn. Strathnairn is part of the Ginninderry development that will one day extend into NSW.

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