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.