Ageing paths network needs $14 million boost, says Pedal Power

Ian Bushnell 13 November 2019 90

Canberra’s paths are chronically underfunded says Pedal Power. It also wants new paths that separate bikes and walkers, especially on the popular lake routes. Photo: Pedal Power

The ACT’s ageing network of shared paths is deteriorating and needs a special $14 million works program over four years to bring it back up to speed, according to cycling lobby group Pedal Power.

Its 2020 Budget submission also calls for more cycleways and a boost to active travel programs, as well as higher parking fees and vehicle registration to get people out of their cars.

The submission calls for the “chronically underfunded” paths network to be assessed and a management plan devised, similar to that for roads, so a rolling program of proactive maintenance can be launched to deal with the backlog.

This will allow areas that are significantly degraded to be upgraded, given the especially poor state of many parts of the network.

Pedal Power says that as well as the special capital injection of $14 million, the existing recurrent maintenance funding should be increased from the current $5 million to $7 million in 2020-21, rising to $12 million by 2023-24.

It also wants two modern path sweepers purchased to replace the old sweeper that it says are no longer fit-for-purpose, and the staff to run them.

“While ACT Roads maintains a structured sweeping program for roads, there is no comprehensive sweeping program of the path network,” it says.

Pedal Power also wants the Government to rev up its Active Travel program with key infrastructure projects such as new paths to cover missing links and new cycleways that separate bikes from fast-moving traffic and pedestrians in areas such as popular lake routes.

It wants to see the works budget doubled over the next three years from $15 million in 2019-20 to $30 million in 2022-23.

It says the development of ‘active travel streets’ should be a priority, starting with those parallel to Northbourne Avenue.

The program to upgrade crossings where main path routes intersect with roads needs to continue beyond 2019-20, with more funding and extended beyond the main cycling routes.

Pedal Power, along with the Conservation Council, calls for the creation of an Active Travel Commissioner for a five-year term to lead and drive education and behaviour change programs to get Canberrans out of their cars.

But it also wants the Government to raise parking fees in the city and town centres, and hike motor vehicle registration fees, as well provide incentives for businesses to provide secure cycle parking and end of trip facilities.

It calls for the Government to develop a southside active travel demonstration suburb such as Whitlam in the Molonglo Valley.

Pedal Power sees great potential for cycling tourism in the ACT and calls for $5 million a year to attract more visitors to and lengthen their stay in the national capital.

This would include themed cycling experiences and key trails for road cycling and mountain biking such as the Mount Ainslie mountain bike circuit from the War Memorial and the Molonglo corridor from Queanbeyan to the Murrumbidgee, as well as building new trails in the west and south-west of the ACT.

Pedal Power warns that cycling participation rates in Canberra have remained largely unchanged for many years and are significantly lower for women.

“Technological developments (such as e-bikes) may drive changes in cycling participation, but are also likely to lead to issues such as safety and congestion in the near future,” it says.

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90 Responses to Ageing paths network needs $14 million boost, says Pedal Power
Lucy Baker Lucy Baker 10:35 am 16 Nov 19

What’s $14 million divided by the number of cyclists who use the bike paths? Pay up, like car users have to.

michael quirk michael quirk 8:21 am 16 Nov 19

Repairing the cycleway network should be a higher priority than the non urgent and unnecessary light rail extension to Woden

Mark Wallin Mark Wallin 7:14 am 16 Nov 19

Ahhh $14M for maintaining existing infrastructure. How much did the train set cost us again?

What if I don’t want to stop using my car?

I live in the outer suburbs.

I do actually need my car for work.

I’m not and never will be particularly fit (at least not enough to ride a bike to work), add in a back injury and riding simply becomes a no go for me...

Cars offer greater flexibility than bikes, they simply do. You can collect your kids from school, pick up some shopping and not suffer hypothermia/heat stroke or simply be an exhausted mess when you arrive at your destination.

My point is bikes are not for everyone. Peddle Power needs to stop bashing up motorists (I know, we started it) and find better ways to encourage people on to bikes.

As for funding bike path maintenance, shouldn’t the government have all of this covered as part of it’s maintenance budget?

If not, then a general increase in rates is the only equitable way I can think of to find this.

tim_c tim_c 3:01 pm 15 Nov 19

Perhaps the cycleways would be in better condition if the ACT Government employees and contractors could keep their trucks off them. The cycleways are very light-duty construction, designed for 100kg of bike and rider, not 25,000kg of truck and council workers.

BlowMeDown BlowMeDown 11:38 am 15 Nov 19

I ride, but for lifestyle recreation. I don’t cycle commute to work for several reasons including that i work to earn a living, not for lifestyle. I want a routine that keeps work out of my lifestyle. Attempts to force me to sacrifice a part of my lifestyle for work are going to be resisted and resented.

tim_c tim_c 8:38 am 15 Nov 19

If I have to pay more for car registration I’m going to get my money’s worth out of it – I already ‘wasted’ $250 in car registration last year because my car sat unused at home for all the days I rode my bike to/from work.

James Murray James Murray 8:49 pm 14 Nov 19

Why bother cyclists don't use them.

    Sarah Brown Sarah Brown 8:51 pm 14 Nov 19

    I always use the paths when I cycle to work :)

    James Murray James Murray 8:52 pm 14 Nov 19

    You must be lonely.

    Sarah Brown Sarah Brown 8:53 pm 14 Nov 19

    Nope, not at all. Lots of other cyclists and pedestrians.

    Sarah Brown Sarah Brown 8:53 pm 14 Nov 19

    And scooters

    Sarah Brown Sarah Brown 8:55 pm 14 Nov 19

    Plus, this is the path network all the kids use if they cycle to school. Much safer than on road cycling.

    James Murray James Murray 8:56 pm 14 Nov 19

    In the 6 years we lived in Canberra I hardly ever saw cyclist using the cycleway at the rear of our house. As a courier I dodged cyclists on the roads on a daily basis..

    Sarah Brown Sarah Brown 9:02 pm 14 Nov 19

    Well, they are allowed to ride on the roads. I’ve always liked the fact that you had the option in Canberra, both cycle paths and on road. I’m not comfortable riding on the road, and I like the terrain you get to go through on the paths. When I'd cycle from Palmerston to Belconnen bus interchange, it was such a nice ride.

    Sarah Brown Sarah Brown 9:03 pm 14 Nov 19

    Into Civic is not bad too, now they’ve done so much work on Sullivan’s Creek

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 10:14 pm 14 Nov 19

    James Murray As it sounds like you don't cycle, you wouldn't know how many use the paths, as you don't use them to find out. At peak hour, when people were riding to work and home, the paths I cycled were very well used.

BlowMeDown BlowMeDown 6:47 pm 14 Nov 19

If you can’t fix a puncture and don’t have someone you can call to come pick you up with the car it’s a long walk home wheeling a bicycle with a flat tyre. Even harder with an e-bike.

    Maya123 Maya123 11:27 pm 14 Nov 19

    I have fixed many a puncture before I bought thorn resistant tyres. A wonderful investment. Rarely a puncture now.

    BlowMeDown BlowMeDown 8:37 am 15 Nov 19

    Most cyclists can fix a puncture (it’s a necessity) but it’s a major turn off for people considering cycling and one that people don’t want to have to deal with (so don’t try to force them to). I’ve seen many a cyclist wheeling their bicycle a long way from home. Even had one knock on my door asking if i had a tyre pump. I did.

    Maya123 Maya123 2:50 pm 16 Nov 19

    In Victoria the RACV has Bike Assist. At least in Melbourne, they will come and fix a flat tyre.
    About time the NRMA did this too.

BlowMeDown BlowMeDown 6:34 pm 14 Nov 19

Nice admission of complete failure by Pedal Power. Cycling numbers have not increased in several years even with all the money spent and inconvenience to other traffic.

And yet they continue to advocate even more tactical measures to magnify frustration for car commuters. If at first you don’t succeed, double down.

    Maya123 Maya123 11:38 pm 14 Nov 19

    I have not seen significant improvement in cycling infrastructure for twenty or more years, and the paths are in worse condition now as they don’t receive regular maintenance as the roads regularly get, so I don’t know what you mean by “with all the money spent”. Or are you referring to new paths in new suburbs. Well there are new roads there too. New things get built in new suburbs.
    “inconvenience to other traffic” Well it would be really inconvenient if everyone who cycled stopped cycling and drove their car, as the norm is with only a driver. All those extra cars slowing down the traffic. I drive a car, and it’s rare I am inconvenienced by people on bicycles; it’s other cars which inconvenience me, and I don’t want more on the road. Cycling infrastructure needs to be improved so that more people are attracted off the road. Until cycling infrastructure is improved, there is unlikely to be a huge increase in people cycling.

    BlowMeDown BlowMeDown 8:14 am 15 Nov 19

    I ride myself, just not on the roads. The shared paths are fine and I’ve ridden most of them regularly.

    I’m talking about the narrowing of lanes and other changes, elimination of slip lanes that were originally built for safety, the lowering of speed limits by 10 and 20kph, etc. That last change has had the effect of increasing congestion and emissions, far outstripping any decreases due to people opting to cycle. Canberra is never going to become Copenhagen.

    And i disagree, if the very few who cycle now stopped, it wouldn’t be noticed broadly across the city provided all of the calming devices installed to accommodate them was also removed. The ANU precinct is the poster child but it’s not really a commute environment. It’s so self contained that on average people, mostly students living on campus or nearby, wouldn’t be commuting more than about one kilometre. Even then you’ve got to wait for the lights to change before you can snap a photo with five cyclists in frame at the same time.

    I’m not anti cycling, just anti the belligerent agenda promoted by the lobby groups and the disingenuous arguments and poor ideas they spawn.

    Maya123 Maya123 2:54 pm 16 Nov 19

    I rode my bike to work for over thirty years and I watched the mostly unmaintained paths get worse and worse.

Robyn Delmenico Robyn Delmenico 12:51 pm 14 Nov 19

How about the cyclist pay for it

    Adrian Fui Fui Moy Adrian Fui Fui Moy 1:19 pm 14 Nov 19

    Cyclists already do, in our rates and charges.Same as roads funding

Ben Richardson Ben Richardson 11:53 am 14 Nov 19

They need to send a street sweeper down a lot of the bike tracks that run along the shoulder of roads and highways. So much debris causing a lot of swerving to avoid it.

rationalobserver rationalobserver 10:01 am 14 Nov 19

How much did the YES campaign cost the ACT Government? That’s where your bike paths went.

Angela M J Brown Angela M J Brown 9:56 am 14 Nov 19

I won't ever get 'out of my car' and ride a bike, I have a disability. I also disagree with hiking rego why should I pay for this, if the cycling lobby want this infrastructure, then cyclists should fund it by paying a rego fee.

BTW what has been done for people with a disability in the ACT in any strategic planning, well, forever?????

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 6:19 pm 14 Nov 19

    There should be more disabled parking available for people with disabilities. No one is asking a person with a disability to ride a bike. To suggest otherwise is silly.

Ella Factor Ella Factor 8:16 am 14 Nov 19

Spend the money needed to seperate the bike paths both from cars and from pedestrians

it would become so much safer to ride if the bike-hating car drivers couldn’t so easily hurt bike riders

And going for a walk would be more pleasant, with mums pushing bubs having the opportunity to walk side by side and chat, if they didn’t have to share path with speeding bike riders

Its worth the investment, as it would improve things for everyone!

Gilavon Gilavon 8:13 am 14 Nov 19

Why raise registration, license and parking charges? It wouldn’t get me to ride my bikes any more than I do now but it would increase the aggravation many drivers already have for cyclists. PP are nice people but too far up the “Naive Register” for me to support or join them.

Pat Moran Pat Moran 7:57 am 14 Nov 19

Love the idea of improving what is now a goat track network of cycle paths.

Loath the idea of increased costs to drivers to ‘get them out of their cars’....

‘Oh no, we will pay higher parking and rego if we take the car. Let’s all ride our bikes instead....’ Moronic.

Also interestingly a parked car still attracts the same rate of registration costs. News flash: we still need our cars....

Cary Elliot Johnson Cary Elliot Johnson 7:40 am 14 Nov 19

I reckon, anyone that owns a vehicle that is less than 10 years old, should be paying the highest tax rate through their rego. Buying a new car is a luxury life choice. You "want", you pay. Just as people make a life choice to ride bikes on tax payers paths. That would be fair wouldn't it?

    Pat Moran Pat Moran 7:53 am 14 Nov 19

    Cary Elliot Johnson

    Less than 10’years old is a ‘new’ car??!?

    Take a seat.....

    Cary Elliot Johnson Cary Elliot Johnson 10:10 am 14 Nov 19

    Pat Moran my point exactly. Drive an old car. Needs v wants. Bicycles.....needs v wants

    Steve Hardiman Steve Hardiman 7:05 pm 14 Nov 19

    Cary Elliot Johnson but arent all the new cars built to more stringent emission standards?

    Cary Elliot Johnson Cary Elliot Johnson 10:57 pm 14 Nov 19

    Steve Hardiman yes agree. My point was more of an analogy. We pay taxes for "everyone" whether we use what is provided or not. Otherwise we may as well just start taxing people on and for the life choices they make....such as paths for bikes or changing cars....lifes needs versus wants and taxes for needs versus wants.

Marko Lehikoinen Marko Lehikoinen 6:35 am 14 Nov 19

Why don't we just call for cyclists to pay to park their bikes instead, they can fund their own infrastructure.

Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 10:59 pm 13 Nov 19

My local suburban streets are being resurfaced at present. Most of them were fine and didn't need resurfacing. Local shared paths where people ride bikes are in far worse condition, but streets in still good condition get resurfaced (likely because there is some sort of schedule no matter what the condition of the street), while the shared paths are ignored, even with grass growing through them, lifted sections and washed dirt and gravel covering them. A lot of this is caused by the inadequate original construction. They just need to look good for the ribbon cutting and photographs on opening day.

Sue Skinner Sue Skinner 8:54 pm 13 Nov 19

I travel between Qbn & theACT to get to work. I'd love to use public transport or cycle, but public transport into Canberra is around $15 return & it's too far for me to cycle ( I'm not sure I've ever seen anyone cycling down Hindmarsh Drive in the morning peak hour!).

Parking at work is $10 a day. Seriously would not be happy paying any more.

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