Cycle highways: Introduction to Active Travel

The idea of “cycle highway” needs to be located within the Active Travel Framework, so that it is not disconnected from the planning mechanism in the ACT (both ROAD AUTHORITY and PLANNING AUTHORITY).

Cycle highways sit in the active travel key statutory and non-statutory planning documents. This article is an introduction to Active Travel. Extracts related to cycle highways from two key documents in the Active Travel Framework are found in the following two articles.

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Cycle highways: Active Travel Facilities Design MIS05

The relevant text for cycle highways is scattered throughout a number of key documents. Here the relevant extracts from Active Travel Facilities Design MIS05 are gathered together in one place.

Read this first.

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Visual dictionary for active travel

Getting the big picture: commonly used active travel terms. A picture is worth a thousand words. The defintions are from the Active Travel Facilities Design – Municipal Infrastructure Standards 05 (MIS05).

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CBR Cycle Route C10: Coombs to Civic Cycle Highway

The C10 Coombs to Civic Cycle Highway (CBR Cycle Route C10) would make commuting between Coombs and Civic faster and also improve the Molonglo Valley network. Four routes are compared: three already exist and one is new – the C10. CBR Cycle Route C10 is the best.

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Road rules for cyclists

Not the most exciting topic perhaps but it is easier to shout at motorists when you know you are in the right. 🙂 A marked shoulder is easily mistaken for the bike lane which creates confusion. More about Australian Road Rule 153.

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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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Planning bike networks is doable

One would think that the best practice for planning road networks would also apply for planning a bike network. The high standards are, however, not translated across. Bike network planning does not use computer modelling, ABS Census data, population growth estimates, or traffic monitoring on existing paths. The ACT has no regular path monitoring, cleaning or maintenance programs. The maintenance of the bike network does not appear as an item in the ACT Budget documents. Repairs are ad hoc and it can take years for the most simple things to be fixed. So, what can be done?

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Cycle paths needed now

The Netherlands has one of the highest participation rates of cycling in the world. It has been long accepted that for safety reasons we need to separate cyclists from motor vehicles and pedestrians.

Canberra needs a lot more cycle paths. Now is a good time to talk about how we are going to do it.

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Fast Track is too slow

A month after the Chief Minister and Minister Steel recommitted their support for active travel, this is where we stand with Fast Track. At the current rate, it will take 166 years to double the length of off-road paths suitable for cycling. The investment in Fast Track is welcome but is too little, too late.

After decades of neglect, there is good reason to make up for lost ground. Many of the older paths in the older suburbs need maintenance and many new paths need to be built for cycling. Much of the Fast Track investment is directed at projects that have no benefit to cycling. Only a very small part of the $35million will be spent on cycle paths. Cyclists are left out in the rain!

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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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