23 June 2023

ACT Government to spend nearly double the usual amount on fixing paths this financial year

| James Coleman
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people walking and cycling on path

Running, walking and riding on the shared path to Woden. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Canberra’s 3190 kilometres of paths are set to get a million-dollar makeover in the coming financial year, as part of a push to get more travellers and commuters active.

The ACT Government has allocated more than $26 million in the upcoming 2023/24 Budget for upgrades to Canberra’s walking and cycling network, and the largest chunk will go towards a project jointly funded by the ACT and Federal governments – the Garden City Cycle Route.

The local government’s contribution of $10.4 million will fund Stage 1 of the new cycle path, which will run through the suburbs of Watson, Downer, Hackett, Dickson, Ainslie and Braddon through to the city loop on Bunda and Allara Street.

It’s said to “better connect inner north suburbs on the eastern side of Northbourne Avenue to Canberra’s main cycling network”, without taking away existing vehicle and pedestrian space.

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“What we’re attempting to do with these new cycle path connections is provide safe, separated or protected cycleways,” Chief Minister Andrew Barr said.

“Depending on the street, there will be different treatments. It could be a protected cycle path that has a small barrier in between the road and the cycleway. It could mean a totally separated path that’s a couple of metres away from the roadway, or it may mean a shared active path on particular streets where there isn’t the room to put in that particular or separated infrastructure.”

The community will be consulted on the plans for the expanded loop in July.

city centre

The new Garden City Cycle Loop is a joint project between the ACT and Federal governments. Photo: James Coleman.

More than $5 million will also boost the amount of funding usually set aside for footpath maintenance by nearly half, and target cracks and wrinkles in the network identified during a recent audit.

According to the City Services directorate, maintenance is a “high priority” across the ACT, but especially in the inner south and Tuggeranong. The suburb of Farrer was singled out for the “volume of requests”.

Minister for Transport Canberra and City Services Chris Steel said it’s a “very significant” increase of 46 per cent to the government’s usual path maintenance budget.

“It will address many of those higher risk defects across the network to make sure that it’s safe and accessible for people to use in the future.”

The path around Lake Ginninderra in Belconnen will also receive $3 million to improve connections between the playgrounds, picnic areas and parks on the lake’s edge, with works to start near Emu Bank and include new and wider paths, better drainage, more lighting and seating.

Kingston is next, with $2.6 million going towards upgrades to the shared path between Cunningham Street and Bowen Park.

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More than $1 million will then fix missing links and gaps in the community path network “where there is a need identified by the community”. This includes more street lighting in a bid to make them safer too.

Also in the name of safety, several roads around Canberra’s schools will receive $2.4 million for new pedestrian crossings.

Three pedestrian crossings will be installed near Canberra High School in Macquarie, two raised crossings at St Mary MacKillop College in Isabella Plains and a raised crossing near Gold Creek High School in Nicholls.

The government is also looking at installing a controlled pedestrian crossing on Canberra Avenue near the St Edmund’s and St Clare’s colleges in Griffith (similar to the one near the Manuka Oval), even if the road’s speed limit of 60 km/h remains the same.

“We’re not supportive of reducing the speed down to 40 km/h on a major arterial road into Canberra from NSW,” Mr Steel said.

“However, we have indicated that we’re willing to look at the feasibility of what a controlled pedestrian crossing could look like across Canberra Avenue .. and we’ll continue to work with the schools as we design the appropriate infrastructure that will keep students safe, but also people moving.”

St Edmund's College, Canberra.

St Edmund’s College faces onto Canberra Avenue and has asked for a 40 km/h zone before. Photo: St Edmund’s College.

Up to $2.1 million will cover feasibility studies to look at ways to improve active travel options in the Gungahlin Town Centre, and the cycle loops around Marcus Clark and Rudd Streets, Lake Burley Griffin, and Cotter Road, Mulley Street and Melrose Drive, as well as the crossings of Athllon Drive and Parramatta Street in Phillip and Miller Street in O’Connor.

To support the works, $785,000 will be invested in community campaigns to “strengthen safety for vulnerable road users and encourage uptake of active travel amongst school students and the broader community”.

The budget announcement comes after Canberra’s peak cycling body Pedal Power joined several other local organisations to petition the government to fast-track its plans to expand and upgrade the cycle network.

“If we do not implement the Active Travel Plan, and soon, Canberra will become a more car-centric environment, spread out, and hostile to active travel alternatives,” the petition read.

“As the top priority we call on the Government to design, build, and upgrade Canberra’s active travel and cycling network within the next five years and build upon this network through invited feedback from the community to identify additional missing links.”

Mr Steel said he hoped the group would be pleased with the increased investment.

“We really do think in places like the inner north, that are close to the city, we will see large numbers of people using [cycleways] once the infrastructure is there.”

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Brendan Cameron5:01 pm 25 Jun 23


It’s double the amount for 2 reasons:
1. The ACT government has not promptly fixed problems like holes, and has neglected to timely do the work, so the damage has gotten worse (and then costs more to fix), and
2: Where they have ‘fixed’ it, they do such a terrible job (cheapest materials, dodgy stones, not properly done) so it doesn’t last long.
Cheap and shoddy workmanship.

As an elderly resident, I am grateful that Sinister Barr has managed to find the funds for active travel. I’ll probably have to pay more in rates and turn down my heating over winter, but that’s a small price to pay with an erection coming up.

Wow! We might even get the path fixed where they painted marks on about 10 years ago. Might have to get in touch with Mr. Steel first though to redo the paint marks first because the old have worn away.

Tried riding an e-scooter on footpaths that end abruptly in a curb without a lip? For that matter tried wheeling a pram or using a mobility scooter where there’s no lip. This is a basic accessibility matter. Lots of these in the older suburbs.

Alvin Santos3:32 pm 24 Jun 23

How important are pedestrians in last in last year’s budget and how does it compare to this year?
Big projects such public transport (light rail and buses) and roads stand out. The investment in the community paths on which we walk, scooter and ride are much less noticeable. These investments are bundled together as active travel.
The $$$ in ACT Budget are for a four-year period – not just one year. Projects often start late and rarely finish early. The ACT Budget for this year will be released this week, so we do not know much yet.
How about previous budgets?
Few items in the budget are directly related to true active travel. The new investment in Active Travel in 2021-2025 Budget was just $21.529 million (TCCS 2021-2022 ACT Budget Statements). Minister Steel, responsible for transport and city services, was given however $286 million. Active travel makes up about 8%. I recall the active travel spend from the last year’s budget was similar to the previous year.
This article suggests that “the ACT Government has allocated more than $26 million in the upcoming 2023/24 Budget for upgrades to Canberra’s walking and cycling network”. That is an increase but not double.
The ACT Budget Statements will tell us more this week. More spending on active travel is certainly most welcome, but it is already clear that the increase is only a modest one.

Perhaps we may even see a footpath on one or the other side of Sturt Avenue near Canberra Avenue (Griffith), or even just on the Canberra Avenue bit? The dirt track cannot be walked on in parts, due to the sharp narrow ditch dug by bikes and scooters in the wet. We’ve been asking for a footpath for a decade now and no doubt earlier residents asked also.

Keen to see what the controlled pedestrian crossing is like. If they really want to avoid slowing the traffic, a pedestrian overpass would work.

Peter Herman1:09 pm 24 Jun 23

ACT government…instead of using taxpayer funds, why don’t you use your own
You rip off the public all the time, so instead of using raxoayer funds, use your own
Also we need and require a car port at our units, so why not spend a few thousand and fix that as well

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