There have been many announcements over the past week. Bike SA dissects recent developments.
Last week $6.5 million was announced in the South Australian budget for new and upgraded greenways and bicycle boulevards over four years. Bicycle boulevards follow quiet streets where cyclists of all abilities can mix safely with local traffic, while greenways are dedicated walking and cycling routes following public transport corridors or linear open space (think Linear Bike Path). The investment is part of the State Government’s response to last year’s Citizens’ Jury, which recommended new greenways and boulevards in areas that are lacking safe alternatives. Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis said “The State Government established a Greenways and Bicycle Boulevard program to improve continuity and connections on cycling routes. We will work with local councils to identify high priority projects in their areas which will benefit from this investment.”
Some of the funding is ear-marked for existing projects, such as the Marino Rocks Greenway, the Gawler Greenway and the Outer Harbour Greenway. According to Transport and Infrastructure Minister Stephen Mulligan, the funded projects complement other investments in infrastructure such as the Norwood and Prospect Bicycle Boulevards, scheduled for completion later this year. Mr Mulligan said about 40% of all private trips in Australia are less than 3km but only a small share of these are made by bicycle.
“The more people we can get on bikes, the healthier our population and closer we are to achieving our goals of doubling the number of people cycling by 2020 and making Adelaide the world’s first carbon neutral city,” he said.
Bike SA’s point of view
From Bike SA’s point of view, the announced funding priorities are appropriately strategic, as completion of the greenway network and expansion of the current boulevard pilot programs are urgently needed. Bike SA commends these funding announcements. But we also have concern that at the current investment levels, we, as a community, will struggle to achieve the doubling of participation by 2020.
By comparison, it is worth noting that the previous four year budget cycle saw investment levels of $12million over the four years to 2015. This significant boost was specifically for development of the south greenway along the Merino Rocks corridor, but also allowed much work to be done on the Outer Harbour greenway as well.
In this context Bike SA has, and will continue to, advocate to the state for an increase in the State Bicycle Fund (up from current levels to $3million annually), which provides local government with access to much needed ‘dollar for dollar’ funding to build up their local area networks that will, in many cases, link into the greenway corridors.
Another budget announcement welcomed by Bike SA is the increase in funding to the Way2Go Bike Ed program that will see a doubling of primary school children receiving this in-school bike education program from current levels of 4,000 per year to 8,000 by 2018.
National Level Survey – people want more funding for cycling.
Meanwhile at a national level, the call is going out to the Federal Government for more investment in cycling, walking and public transport. A new national report shows that more than 70% of Australians would support the Government investing more funds to make it easier and safer to ride a bike, walk and use public transport. The ‘2015 Investment in Active Transport Survey’ was conducted by the National Heart Foundation and Cycling Promotion Fund, and shows that:
- 71 per cent of people support more funding for cycling, walking and public transport infrastructure;
- 62 per cent of people believe Government should fund walking and cycling infrastructure when there is an upgrade or construction of road infrastructure;
- 44 per cent of people are prevented from cycling due to lack of infrastructure;
- More than one in two people would cycle or walk to public transport if infrastructure was improved;
- Almost two thirds of children are driven to school because of safety concerns and lack of infrastructure;
- More than 60 per cent would walk more if infrastructure was improved.
“Current transport infrastructure funding arrangements don’t give enough to ensure active travel is a safe realistic option for most Australians,” said CPF’s Stephen Hodge, adding “With half of all car trips in most major cities less than 5km, the response nationally is clear, walking and riding for short local trips is seen as a healthy, desirable option by Australians, but we need a way of dedicating funding specifically to walking and cycling infrastructure”. Griffith University’s Matt Burke who advises the Heart Foundation on physical activity, said there has never been a better time to get Australia moving.
“With better pathways, separated bike lanes and an integrated public transport system we could help to get more people, more active, more often.”
The report was presented to the Parliamentary Friendship Group for Better Cities in Canberra last week.
You can read the full report here.
Bike SA works closely with local and state governments on all sorts of advocacy issues. Become a Bike SA member today and join a community of cyclists all seeking change.