A cycling master plan will be good for cyclists, pedestrians and road users

Tim Gavel 22 January 2021 57
Stromlo Criterium circuit

The Stromlo Criterium circuit is well used by Canberra cyclists. Photo: Tim Gavel.

Whenever a story about cycling appears, it activates an avalanche of pent up angst from the wider community.

Predominantly it’s anti-cyclists, and their arguments are based on a negative experience or a misconception.

The reaction to the story ‘Does the cycling community get a fair go in Canberra?’ on the need for more facilities illustrated this. If nothing else, it highlights why Canberra’s cycling community needs to present a better case, especially when it comes to cycling amenities.


READ MORE: Does the cycling community get a fair go in Canberra?


Peter Rogers is part of a prominent Canberra cycling family. He rode as a professional, and his two brothers, Michael and Deane, are both former world champions.

Peter’s son Cameron is an emerging champion.

Peter is also captain of the Canberra Cycling Club, as well as being the outgoing president of Cycling ACT, so it’s fair to say he’s very aware of the local cycling environment.

“In 2004, Canberra’s sports cycling community identified the issue of growing demand for cycling [facilities] but decreasing access to safe venues due to city growth,” says Peter. “This was formalised within a proposal to government to build a multi-wheeled facility. Unfortunately, the facility was not funded.”

When Peter refers to the sports cycling community, he means the cyclists who compete in the sport of cycling, which is no different to, say, soccer or cricket.

There are also many Canberrans who ride for recreation or commute to work on the shared paths or the roads.

“The shared path system is great,” remarks Peter. “However, it presents safety issues relating to congestion and its narrow design. In most cases, if a bicycle rider wants a consistent ride or needs to travel longer distances, the roads are the only choice.”


READ MORE: The Canberra athletes most likely to inspire in 2021


The shared paths are highly populated most weekends with an influx of walkers, joggers, cyclists, dogs and electric scooters, while on the roads cyclist are mingling with cars.

“On a fine day with good weather, most experienced cyclists already question whether they should use bike paths because of congestion, and the paths are simply too narrow to safely cater for everyone,” Peter says.

So, to the current facilities for Canberra cyclists.

Canberra has two purpose-built sport cycling facilities comprising a locked gate (bookings only) velodrome in Narrabundah, with very steep and intimidating embankments, and a short 1.2-kilometre criterium circuit at Stromlo Forest Park. Both facilities are very well used during available daylight hours.

Beyond competition, the criterium circuit must also cater to the public. And it’s very popular with young families and their children. This is a fantastic use of a public facility, but the popularity further limits the sports cycling community’s ability to ride or train at these time in a safe car-free environment.

To make it even more prohibitive, there are no lights at either facility meaning the community cannot run participation programs or events during peak times, 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm.

“The community has been calling for purpose-built cycling facilities since 2004, and later, the facilities the community asked for were rationalised by government in the Stromlo Forest Park Mastering Plan in 2010. Once again, the funding is yet to be committed,” says Peter.

Key provisions for the sport and recreational component of cycling include a 12-kilometre road circuit around Stromlo and an extension of the current criterium circuit. These provisions have also been listed within five major priorities for Stromlo Forest Park by the SFP User Group Committee.

Given road cycling’s popularity, the proposed 12-kilometre cycling circuit and criterium extension would underpin local events and significantly take the burden away from shared paths and encourage more people to cycle because of the safer environment.

Part of the issue in formulating an argument for improved facilities has been the lack of data around participation. It is often hard to quantify because of the ‘self-organised’ recreational and commuting aspect of cycling.
It is far easier to assess participation in sports such as soccer as most players are registered with a club.

Another aspect has been the resistance of government to embrace the needs of the cycling community. Progress has been static to say the least.

The comments from many in the community to RiotACT provide a barometer of the work required to create greater understanding.

“I wasn’t surprised by the response,” says Peter, “And many of the opinions are perfectly valid in highlighting the shortcomings in Canberra’s active travel and sporting infrastructure investment. Active travel and sport play a major role in Canberra’s health and wellbeing. As the needs of Canberra’s growing population evolve, the design of our roads, shared paths and sporting infrastructure also needs to keep pace.

“The quicker government invest in ways to address the issues raised in this thread, the safer and happier everybody will be. If we all aspire to walking, jogging, cycling, and driving in harmony, it makes sense for city planners to step up and provide better solutions.”

Surely the time has come for the development of a workable master plan to create a safer environment for cyclists while at the same time relieving those impacted by them, particularly on the roads and cycleways.


What's Your Opinion?


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57 Responses to A cycling master plan will be good for cyclists, pedestrians and road users
aussie2 aussie2 1:58 am 05 Feb 21

Can I start by talking about the first point-cycling generally. There is no doubt that our cycling-walking infrastructure badly needs updating. But more importantly I would like to see a government commitment to duplicate these “multi use footpaths” right across Canberra as I believe they need to be separated as much as possible for the convenience and safety of the “travelling public”. The government continually peddles the active travel mantra yet does little about it. It would be costly to implement, and require honesty on the user to add a nominal rego fee for serious bike users with little percentage return to government. However, this is the cost of implementing government philosophy and demand aka active travel. Instead of spending all that tram money going to Woden, go to the airport instead and use the spare cash to kickstart an active travel infrastructure plan.

Tim McMahon Tim McMahon 9:13 pm 23 Jan 21

let’s put rego and insurance on these bikes as well as road worthy checks every year just like cars trucks and everything else that pays for roads

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 12:23 am 24 Jan 21

    Tim McMahon Road worthy checks! When was the last time your car had a road worthy check? It's been years since any car of mine had a road worthy check. Get real.

    Tim McMahon Tim McMahon 9:23 am 24 Jan 21

    Julie Macklin every year mine gets done thanks

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 9:48 am 24 Jan 21

    Tim McMahon Well, mine hasn't had a check since they closed the government registration check in Dickson years ago. Yes the car gets serviced, but that's not the same as a road worthy test. I remember lining up in the long queue. Doesn't happen now in Canberra. We are talking about Canberra.

    Tim McMahon Tim McMahon 9:31 am 27 Jan 21

    Julie Macklin yep talking about Canberra the place I work 6 days a week and I see a lot

Paul Mathews Paul Mathews 9:27 am 22 Jan 21

great. Now need one for BARKING DOGS, eh Chris

rationalobserver rationalobserver 7:06 am 22 Jan 21

The cycling master plan already exists and is plain to see.
It entails the removal of all private motor vehicles from our roads.
There is a multi faceted approach to this, from removal of parking, to inconvenience by phasing traffic lights to favor pedestrians / cyclists and trams, and financial disincentives such as fines, parking fees, etc.

    dolphin dolphin 2:45 pm 23 Jan 21

    despite your name you are neither rational or a very good observer.

John Hawkins John Hawkins 7:20 pm 21 Jan 21

Good bike plans are necessary, but not sufficient. What matters is delivery. Delivery is dependent on funding. The bottom line - once it's in, you need to step up to the next level and start lobbying ferociously for the commitments be honoured.

Cycling advocacy is littered with targets and plans that never get actioned because they are not funded. Don't let this be another one of those.

Keran Niquet Keran Niquet 4:18 pm 21 Jan 21

Why the concentration on the most pandered group of arrogant people on earth. Namely the Lycra brigade. If they want all these facilities, let them pay for them through licence fees, registration fees and third party insurance.

    Paul Casimir Paul Casimir 5:45 pm 21 Jan 21

    Why? None of those things pay for roads, so why should cyclists have to pay for their own infrastructure wen you don't?

    Isn't it a bit arrogant of you to assume that you have special rights?

    Michael Kater Michael Kater 8:32 pm 21 Jan 21

    Keran Niquet Sorry but you are totally wrong. It is a society we live in that all pay for roads and infrastructure by taxes and rates. Most cyclists also drive cars. Cycling actually help reduce the burden on healthcare significantly by improving the health of participants. In fact, cyclists save the Government and community money.

    Keran Niquet Keran Niquet 10:40 pm 21 Jan 21

    Paul Casimir . What planet are you on? I pay registration fees on both cars. Cyclists do not!

    Paul Casimir Paul Casimir 10:51 pm 21 Jan 21

    Keran Niquet congratulations! Still doesn’t change the fact that roads are paid for by rates and taxes, not rego.

    I pay registration on two cars and a large motorbike. It gives me no special rights on the road.

    Stuart Brogan Stuart Brogan 11:01 pm 21 Jan 21

    Keran Niquet no mate, you clearly demonstrated which group is arrogant.

    The private car, the most heavily subsidised firm of transport world wide.

    Norman Stoner Norman Stoner 1:01 pm 22 Jan 21

    Keran Niquet rather than making misinformed comments on Facebook, do a bit of reading on the matter.

    Have a read of this before you go down the rabbit hole.

    www.qld.giv.au/transport/public/bicycle-riding/bebefits-of-riding

    Norman Stoner Norman Stoner 8:38 pm 22 Jan 21

    Karen Niquet , you some research

Bill59 Bill59 3:48 pm 21 Jan 21

We don’t have an infrastructure problem here in Canberra – more an attitude and education problem around sharing our infrastructure with respect and courtesy..

Peter Mcleod Peter Mcleod 3:02 pm 21 Jan 21

Barr not Beer

Peter Mcleod Peter Mcleod 3:02 pm 21 Jan 21

Beer promised $4 million for pot hole repairs.

    Geoff Col Geoff Col 8:34 am 23 Jan 21

    Peter Mcleod Ha ha Barr promises a lot of thinks but simply won't deliver. I remember him promising a new ice hockey rink during the recent election, in Tuggeranong but that will just blow away in the wind like most of his promises. Simply put there is no money in budget for such luxuries such as rinks or speedways.

Peter Mcleod Peter Mcleod 3:01 pm 21 Jan 21

A pot hole master plan to spend on roads promised by Barr prior to last election would be a priority

Kyle Rollinson Kyle Rollinson 1:28 pm 21 Jan 21

Plan?? Except for more blocks of flats, and added “vibrancy”, what actual plans exist?

Lizzie Christiansen Young Lizzie Christiansen Young 11:53 am 21 Jan 21

So true. Lots of cyclists and drivers trying to fo the right thing but many others just won't. A plan would really do well in Canberra. Ps: not a fan of side by side cycling when on a cycling lane on the road...dangerous for everyone.

    Paul Casimir Paul Casimir 5:48 pm 21 Jan 21

    The crash data suggests that that's not the case.

    Stuart Brogan Stuart Brogan 10:59 pm 21 Jan 21

    Paul Casimir and the government states it is safer.

Mark Katalinic Mark Katalinic 7:18 am 21 Jan 21

It'd be nice to see cyclists using the infrastructure already in place. See cyclists merrily ignoring the cycle path 2m to their left that goes to the same place they're riding to on a daily basis.

    Adrian Fui Fui Moy Adrian Fui Fui Moy 9:49 am 21 Jan 21

    Mark Katalinic With respect, did you even read the article which is about cycle sport - are you suggesting the shared paths should be used for bike racing? Further - the other hundred comments are about how well the paths are already used - are you now saying they are not? even further - the road rules state that cycling is permitted on roads, if you disagree run for office and litigate to change them.

    Mark Katalinic Mark Katalinic 4:17 pm 21 Jan 21

    Adrian Fui Fui Moy every day I drive past people avoiding the paths so why not use them for racing?

    Steve Manns Steve Manns 5:51 pm 21 Jan 21

    Adrian Fui Fui Moy cycling is not a sport

    Il Padrone Il Padrone 10:45 pm 21 Jan 21

    Mark Katalinic many separated shared paths (not cycle paths) are sub-standard, and may not go where the rider is going. Your presumption to dictate which road or path another person should travel on is truly the words of the dictator's stazi.

    Mark Katalinic Mark Katalinic 11:01 pm 21 Jan 21

    Il Padrone when it's next to a highway there's only really one place to go

    Il Padrone Il Padrone 11:04 pm 21 Jan 21

    That destination is still not something that you can know. There are many reasons why a person would choose to use the road instead, and regardless, no law mandates riding a legal road vehicle off the road 💡

    Mark Katalinic Mark Katalinic 11:09 pm 21 Jan 21

    It's not unreasonable to question why people are riding 20km down a road when there is a path that goes the same way

    Il Padrone Il Padrone 11:14 pm 21 Jan 21

    Mark Katalinic just keep your car on the freeways that we have all paid $$billions for you to use 👍

    Daryll Rae Daryll Rae 12:08 am 22 Jan 21

    Mark Katalinic -cyclist by law are under no legal obligation to use cycles paths .

    Morgan Stuart Morgan Stuart 8:54 am 23 Jan 21

    I love the way people whose obvious only method of transport is a car always bang on like someone forced them to be in it......

    Dani Glatz Dani Glatz 1:13 pm 23 Jan 21

    The simple answer Mark is there is no such thing as a cycle path in Canberra. Only Shared Paths. Would you choose a road with a lower speed limit that had slow moving and unpredictable commuters wandering across it?

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 11:50 am 24 Jan 21

    Mark Katalinic Likewise why not use the roads for car racing? No, silly suggestion, as is yours.

Peter Major Peter Major 8:32 pm 20 Jan 21

get then off the road would be progress

Anthony Olivera Anthony Olivera 5:47 pm 20 Jan 21

Dragway > Bike tracks for people that will still use roads

    Aleksandar Vujić Aleksandar Vujić 6:38 pm 20 Jan 21

    Anthony Olivera gives cyclists somewhere to ride so they don't share the footpath with people, wont give motoring enthusiasts and place to race so they don't race on the street 🥱

Robert Honeybone Snr Robert Honeybone Snr 5:32 pm 20 Jan 21

About time they put one on the north side

charlieg charlieg 2:58 pm 20 Jan 21

Martin Miller makes a good point that sport cycling and transport cycling are two very different things. There’s some overlap, of course, but two different issues.

To the people decrying spending money on bike infrastructure I’d make a couple of points: the percentage of the infrastructure budget that’s spent on cycling infrastructure is much lower than the percentage of people who use it. While it’s not practical for everyone to commute by bike, those who need or want to drive benefit from bike infrastructure too — fewer cars on the road means less traffic, better (separated) infrastructure means fewer unpleasant bike/car interactions, fewer drivers means less competition for parking. I’ve not seen Australian numbers, but there’s a Canadian study knocking around that shows that while driving costs society about $9 per dollar spent by the driver, whereas cycling costs society a handful of cents. Good cycling infrastructure means kids can be more independent, it reduces pollution (noise/particulate/carbon), there are obvious fitness benefits, it’s good for people who can’t afford to drive. Plus bike paths are pretty cheap compared to roads.

Ryan Hunter Ryan Hunter 12:04 pm 20 Jan 21

is this a news page or a lobby group? every 2nd article is about cyclists wanting more and more money spent on them.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 12:00 pm 20 Jan 21

All cycling paths should be re-routed through the National Arboretum Theme Park so cyclists can harvest the money trees on their way.

For goodness sake, where else is the money coming from for all these demands? It is clear that most commenters so far have never risked a dollar of their own as they expect taxpayer funded commitments for all things to do with cycling.

A lot of people in Canberra don’t even have a bed to lie in or if they have to be hospitalised they can’t even get a bed to die in.

Jim Reid Jim Reid 11:42 am 20 Jan 21

Act Gov't is only interested in Geocon developments than anything to help sport nor cycling facilities.....a bit ironic for their so called progressive govt of greenies and union hacks. Chris Steel can't even get the public transport sorted

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