13 November 2019

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

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

michael quirk8:21 am 16 Nov 19

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

rationalobserver10:01 am 14 Nov 19

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

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.

I reckon a dedicated Bike only loop around Lake Tuggeranong would be a great initiative. The current Shared path is narrow and winding with dog walkers and small children. It makes riding around Lake Tuggeranong a poor experience for anyone beyond a beginner cyclist.

A bike only loop path would provide a good and safe exercise option for facility neglected Tuggeranong. I can’t imagine there’s been a new bike path in Tuggeranong since our ACT Government came to power????

Ah yes, of course.

The old “Cyclists need a dedicated path because it is not right that pedestrians slow them down argument”.

Usually held by people who are quite happy for cars to have to slow down for cyclists on roads.

No you’re building your own straw man. I just think it would make the Lake a much better experience for both cyclists and walkers. There’s Not a huge amount of suitable health facilities and exercise space within Tuggeranong itself. Good dirt walking paths on the outer edges, but that’s not suitable for few many situations.

I’m happy to share, just keep within one lane so I can get past (they’re plenty wide enough for two normal-sized people to walk side-by-side), and keep your dog under control on a lead short enough to keep it also within your lane. And don’t ask me to slow down to walking pace to go past you – I’m on a bike precisely because I don’t have time to travel at walking pace all the way to/from work.

Sharing is always two-sided, whether pedestrians & cyclists on the cycleways or cyclists & motorists on the roads – pay attention, be predictable, and don’t unreasonably obstruct other users.

No straw man argument. Just facts.

We have special passing laws to make it safer for cyclists on the roads and there have been calls for cars to reduce speeds. It is all about cars changing their behavior to make the roads safer for cyclists. Bike riders insist they have every right to ride on the road, and how dare anyone suggest they shouldn’t.

But when it is the other way around, when it is the bikes that are faster and the dangerous ones, surprise surprise the cyclists don’t want to share with slower traffic.

It isn’t a strawman argument, it is hypocrisy.

Do what you want cars to do. Travel at a safe speed when there is slower, more vulnerable traffic on your path. Give them safe space when passing. If you are stuck behind them and can’t overtake because there is other traffic approaching and you have to slow to a walking pace, then don’t whine. They have just as much right to the paths as you.

It doesn’t matter if it talks you longer to get to your destination. It is all about safety and the rights of the slower, more vulnerable traveller.

Remember, their rights over ride your rights to ride over them.

wildturkeycanoe10:04 am 13 Nov 19

Cycle Lobby – gimme, gimme, gimme. But what do they put back in? They wany everyone else to pay for their tour-de Canberra track. How about instead of making it more expensive for everyone to go to work and back, they try to support better cross-town public transport? Only a small % of people can pedal 60km return for work everyday .

60km, where do you think people are commuting from? I can get from Gordon to the city using mostly the shared paths and its less than 28km of nearly flat riding. This is a an easy 60 minute ride for a average person. Oh and dont go on about the time to take a shower when you get to work, this takes the same time it when you do it at home so its a false premise. As for funding, given that per head of capita we spend far more on the roads than we do on cycling infrastructure I would love to see more of my rates and taxes go towards active transport. Plus if we are healthier we cost the medicare system less so are actually putting more into the system than most drivers.

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