5 February 2024

New Active Travel Plan just a wish list without targets, says Pedal Power

| Ian Bushnell
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The government says the Active Travel Plan is about providing safe infrastructure for walking and riding. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

The ACT Government has released its Active Travel Plan for the next six years, announced a number of project proposals and $4 million extra funding, but Canberra’s cycling lobby group has blasted the document as little more than a wish list.

Pedal Power ACT Executive Director Simon Copland criticised the time taken to deliver the document and the lack of timelines, budget, or targets, questioning the government’s commitment to implementing the plan.

“At first glance, we should be happy,” Mr Copland said. “The Plan claims to support numerous improvements we have been advocating for.

“These include a commitment to converting on-road cycle lanes on priority routes to safe separated cycleways; providing secure bicycle cages in every Town Centre; progressively building the identified priority missing links and more.

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“Sadly, in practice, without targets, an implementation plan or allocated funding, this document is more a wish list than an actual plan.”

Mr Copland said the government had taken more than 18 months to release the plan, while in that time Seville in Spain had built an 80 km separated bike network, which boosted its cycling rate from near zero to 10 per cent.

“Given how long it has taken to get this plan out, there is rightly a perception in the community that the government is not committed to improving our clearly inadequate cycling infrastructure,” he said.

“It seems that for the ACT Government, producing the plan is the achievement, and delivering on it is secondary, even during the ACT’s climate emergency.”

The Plan’s release coincided with a warning from police about motorists leaving the required one metre and 1.5 metre space, depending on whether the speed limit is below or over 60 km/h, when passing cyclists, citing an incident last year involving a truck on State Circle.

About 9:35 am on Tuesday 19 September, a cyclist was travelling along State Circle when a truck approached from behind and passed the cyclist in close proximity.

But City Services Minister Tara Cheyne rejected the claim that the Plan was light on detail.

She said it had 13 key actions and five priority areas.

“It’s been informed by the community, it’s taken on the community’s feedback and will inform future investment decisions,” she said.

Ms Cheyne conceded the government could be clearer about the work that would occur under the Plan so the community understood where the $90 million in investment was going.

Transport and Planning Minister Chris Steel said the Plan was very specific in designing a new cycling network for Canberra, outlining the specific priority routes the government would be investing in over the next six years.

“We’ve already started investing in those through the budget with new feasibility and design studies undertaken in the routes that have been identified with the community and now were getting on and commencing those plans, and in every budget we’ll provide more funding for active travel,” he said.

“There is also a very specific technical design guide developed with groups like Pedal Power to make sure that were building protected active travel infrastructure, separated infrastructure, which is the key priority identified in the Plan that will encourage more people to take up walking and cycling.”

The Plan prioritises key walking areas, outlines Canberra’s future cycling network, providing more secure bike parking and a range of targeted programs to encourage people to use active travel and public transport more often.

The government also announced a further $4 million for active travel improvements as part of a 50:50 funding agreement with the Australian Government under the Commonwealth’s Road Safety Program.

This is on top of $29.5 million provided in the 2023-24 ACT Budget to support active travel, and brings total spending across the budget and forward estimates on active travel to over $94 million.

The government says the Kingston Cycleway – a new high quality cycleway connecting Kingston and the Inner South through to the City on the C2 cycle route, will be delivered in two stages with construction of the first stage, a pop-up bi-directional protected cycle lane on Bowen Drive between the Kings Avenue underpass and Bowen Park, due to start in the coming weeks.

It says if this proves successful, there is also funding to investigate other corridors which may also be suited to pop-up cycle lanes.

Detailed design of the second stage connecting Bowen Park with Cunningham Street via Eastlake Parade will start in the coming months.

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Additional projects proposed are:

  • a new pedestrian crossing on New South Wales Crescent improving safe access to Telopea Park;
  • improvements to the City to Woden C4 cycle route via the Lake Burley Griffin cycling circuit on Alexandrina Drive in Yarralumla including raised crossings, lighting and signage;
  • improvements to the City to Belconnen C3 cycle route through a new raised crossing on Bauhinia Street in O’Connor;
  • upgrades to the cycling crossing point on the Adelaide Avenue on-ramp at the Hopetoun Circuit intersection including a pedestrian crossing and cycle lane improvements;
  • a new raised pedestrian crossing on Bowman Street in Jamison; and
  • pedestrian safety improvements on Beasley Street at the bus stops in front of the Torrens shops including two new kerb ramps to assist crossing.

Active travel projects already underway including the Garden City Cycle Route, new shared path along Sulwood Drive, William Hovell Drive shared path as well as improvements to paths around Lake Ginninderra and the Tuggeranong Foreshore.

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