ACT GOVERNMENT SPENDS BIG ON CYCLING BUT SAFETY CONCERNS REMAIN
Canberra Times, 10 July 2015
The ACT has invested more in cycling infrastructure per head of population than any other government in Australia, according to a new study. The government-funded Australian Bicycle Council’s annual implementation report, released this week, found the territory government has spent $7.88 on cycling initiatives per Canberran.
Australian states and territories invested $112.8 million in cycling infrastructure and education programs during 2013-14, with the ACT spending $2.8 million.
According to the report, the ACT government’s investment in cycling has nearly doubled since 2011-12 when $1.5 million was spent, with more initiatives announced in the 2015/16 budget.
Nationally, bicycles outsold cars for the 15th consecutive year in 2013-14, with more than 1.3 million people buying a two-wheeler.
But the popularity of bicycles and investment in cycling paths has not led to improved safety standards, according to a separate report released this week.
The proportion of cyclists seriously injured on Australian roads jumped at a significantly higher rate than that of motorists in the past decade, and will continue to climb unless dedicated bicycle infrastructure is properly funded, a national bicycle group says.
While in real terms the number of drivers and passengers affected is much larger, the accelerated growth among cyclists meant they were increasingly at risk, said Chris Carpenter, general manager of government and external relations at Bicycle Network.
Between 2000-1 and 2008-09, the rate of serious injury to cyclists climbed 82.6 per cent, while the equivalent figure for those in cars increased by 13.3per cent.
About four people are killed and almost 100 seriously injured due to road crashes across the country every day.
Mr Carpenter urged the federal government to speed up the introduction of new vehicle safety standards to match those in Europe.
He highlighted the need for compulsory electronic stability control, which can reduce the risk of crashing from skidding or losing control.
“There’s a lot of new technologies available and we should be looking to more rapidly adopting those technologies.”
Earlier this year, a study commissioned by Pedal Power found almost 90 per cent of cyclists in Belconnen believe the region’s cycling infrastructure is inadequate and dangerous.
The lobby group called on the government to invest $50 million in cycling infrastructure and health promotion efforts – $12.5 million over four years – including the completion of a 3.2-kilometre Civic Cycle Loop.
In May, Chief Minister Andrew Barr announced $23 million of funding for projects around Canberra as part of the government’s “suburban” budget focus.
New and existing shared cycling lanes around Woden Town Centre will be improved with $250,000 of funding, while another $600,000 will go to construction of new walking and cycling paths through Bowen Park to connect to Kingston Foreshore.
Other projects include $1.5 million for final design and construction of new road crossings on Sullivan’s Creek cycle path, including at Masson Street, Condamine Street and Goodwin Street. Stage one of the Molonglo cycle highway, linking the city to Acacia Inlet, will receive $200,000.
Bicycle Network made a submission to a Senate inquiry into road safety, which will examine the social and economic costs of crashes and how to prevent them.
In its submission, it states that the jump in cyclists’ serious injuries spoke “volumes on the failure to seriously address bicycle road safety”.
“No progress has been made in reducing the number of bike rider fatalities.”