10 May 2023

Pedal Power's bid for 30 km/h speed limits laid out in budget submission

| Claire Fenwicke
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Bike riders

Pedal Power’s submission is about making Canberra safer and more supportive of cycling for commuting and recreation. Photo: Supplied.

The ACT Government is being asked to reduce speed limits in Canberra’s suburban streets to just 30 km/h as part of a push to encourage more people to take up cycling.

That’s one option put forward by an advocacy group in its submission for the upcoming ACT Budget.

Pedal Power ACT wants to see Canberra become the leading city for supporting bike riders, and sees the 2023-24 budget as an opportunity for the government to help transform our travel habits.

“The ACT has historically boasted some of Australia’s best cycling infrastructure – infrastructure that is safe, protected, attractive, pleasant to use, and offers genuine convenience to riders,” its submission stated.

“Despite all this, the car remains ‘king’ in Canberra.”

Currently, trips by bike represent less than 2.7 per cent of the 1.3 million trips Canberrans make every day, with many locals indicating they’d be interested in taking up cycling more regularly – they just don’t feel the current infrastructure network is safe or convenient enough to do so.

Classifications of bike riders

Pedal Power submitted many Canberrans are interested in taking up regular cycling, but don’t feel the network is safe or convenient enough. Photo: Pedal Power Budget submission.

One solution? Reduce speed limits to 30 km/h on all suburban streets and in town centres.

“[As well as] ensure streets and intersections are redesigned with temporary and then permanent physical barriers to prevent drivers from speeding,” the report stated.

The submission points to low-traffic neighbourhood (LTN) models being used in the UK, which aim to reduce ‘rat running’ by making car use more difficult but still possible, thus encouraging people to use footpaths and quieter local streets.

“Building infrastructure to reduce motorised traffic speeds will improve safety and encourage more people to cycle,” the submission stated.

“There is clear evidence that to reduce serious injury risk, speed limits should be lowered to 30 kph.”

Pedal Power wants to see LTNs trialled in Canberra suburbs, to be tweaked based on community feedback.

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This would complement another section of its submission, which is to create separated cycling infrastructure across the city.

Pedal Power submitted that it understood separated cycle lanes or off-road cycle-only paths couldn’t be built on every road, which is where the 30 km/h speed limit and LTN model would step in.

It said while the ACT Government had invested in some “nation-leading cycling infrastructure projects” in recent years, gaps remained.

“When Pedal Power asked Canberrans in early 2022 what would sway them to cycle instead of driving, 58 per cent of respondents said a direct cycleway, separated from cars and pedestrian traffic,” the submission stated.

“Forty-one per cent they said would ride for transport if they didn’t have to ride on the road.”

A draft Active Travel Plan has been developed for the ACT, but as a top priority Pedal Power wants to see the proposed connected, safe and convenient cycle network be implemented within the next five years.

Other gaps identified include a lack of secure bike parking and other end-of-trip facilities in each of Canberra’s town centres, the need to upgrade lighting across all active travel streets and separated bike paths, and the potential to establish an annual ‘car-free day’.

Pedal Power also points out cycling isn’t restricted to commuting, with recreation also an important outlet.

It wants to see the maintenance budget for Stromlo Forest Park increased by $300,000 each year, and the delivery of the 2020 election promise to build a ‘flow’ style mountain biking trail from the park to the Cotter Recreation Area.

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Lastly, Pedal Power has called on the government to develop more walkable and cyclable neighbourhoods, adopting the concept of ’15-minute cities’ where everything can be accessed within a quarter of an hour radius by foot or bike.

“The 15-minute city is a way to enhance everyone’s freedom, allowing us all to live close to services and to not be forced to rely on a car to get the things we need,” its submission stated.

“Public transport is also an essential element … [it] is particularly useful for those trips that are not achievable in 15 minutes by foot or bike.

“Many cyclists already use public transport, whether they park their bike at a tram or bus stop, or they put it on to a bus or light rail vehicle.”

Its submission sets out how this could be achieved for each Canberra region – Ginninderra, Yerrabi, Kurrajong, Murrumbidgee and Brindabella – which can be viewed in full online.

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At the same time lets put in place a new law banning bicycles from suburban streets – that will make it much safer for cyclists.

The overwhelming number of knee jerk responses to this article are telling of a large number who haven’t read the PP submission and noted the context in which the 30km/hr issue is raised. Media need to raise the game on reporting by not seeking out and misrepresenting what they believe are issues that will gain the most response.

I wonder if the 30km/h submission was just to get attention, and they were never serious about it, because the other stuff – dedicated paths so you don’t have to cycle on the road – seems like a good idea.

James T Kirk8:27 pm 04 May 23

God, I hope the government can actually read their submission.
They said “When Pedal Power asked Canberrans in early 2022 what would sway them to cycle instead of driving, 58 per cent of respondents said a direct cycleway, separated from cars and pedestrian traffic.

What this means, is that if 1000 people responded, then 580 of them believe that.

That does not even vaguely mean that 58 percent of people want something….

Dropping speed limits to a snails pace will result in less concentration, resulting in more accidents.

By the way, how many pedestrian accidents hapened in the suburbs? Was it 5 or 10? What problem are the licra brigade fixing.

If the government is silly enough to even think about adopting such a policy, Canberra will see the biggest demonstrations on its streets since the Vietnam War Moratorium marches of the 1970s.

Yeah right, Bike boy – I doubt you’ll even get as many as the ‘multi millions’ of anti-vaxxers (and other conspiracy theorists) who marched here last year.

Unlike outraged RioatACT-ers, if it did come to pass (which is highly unlikely), most Canberrans will see it for what it is – not that big a deal, and then get on with their lives, albeit at 30kph.

You think so? Most Canberrans are getting fed up with the tail wagging the dog bs we are being subjected to on a regular basis. Let’s wait and see.

@Bike boy
Yes – I think so. When was the last time Canberrans en masse spilled into the streets to protest against the ACT government?

Suffice to say your comment that we “will see the biggest demonstrations on its streets since the Vietnam War Moratorium marches of the 1970s” was a tad OTT.

… and I don’t disagree that a sizeable chunk of Canberrans (most is debatable) have had it with the Labor/Greens government – but as I’ve said on here before, it just goes to show how bad the alternative is seen to be by the electorate, if we continue electing them (Labor – Labor/Greens).

Yes, the reference to the Moratorium marches was OTT; I think it’s called social media hyperbole! I was there btw. The mist of time may have increased numbers in our minds eye, but in reality there weren’t all that many of us in the marches in Canberra. But I digress. Pedal Power isn’t the only ‘transport’ (and I use that term in its widest sense) interest group in Canberra. There are others and we are already networking to prepare to take on this issue if the government is foolish enough to go down this road. I don’t imagine it would take more than a couple of hundred cars, motorbikes, utes, trucks to make life difficult around the Legislative Assembly. I love the smell of a good demo in the morning!

More enlightened thinking, I don’t think !…..very satisfied that I left 50yrs ago when it was still a pleasure to live in the place.

Michael Pless4:26 pm 04 May 23

It’s sad that PP has put such an aggressive and punitive submission forward with the long-suffering motorist clearly in their sights. If infrastructure for their pursuit is lacking – as they claim – what have they done to raise funding to improve it? Or do they expect motorists to contribute further to PP’s cause? Reducing the suburban speed limits to 30 kmph will, in my experience, see a vast number of cars being overtaken by bike riders and often on the left and right simultaneously. After my first visit to the Jerrabomberra Wetlands and “sharing” a walking track with them I was in constant fear of being bowled-over by pelotons of lycra-clad fanatics intent on only one thing: more speed as they dinged their little bells to drive pedestrians into the shrubbery in fear of their lives. I was even warned by others to watch out for these people as they had no concern for anyone, and at times only a few centimetres separated me from a 100kg+ rider hurtling past me from behind, travelling at high speed. And as much as PP might want to assert that bike riders use the roads for transport, it is clear they often use roads as a recreational facility. The correct term for this is “hooning”. The majority of motorists merely use roads as a link between departure and destination. PP would gain far more credibility and respect if it desisted with its attempts to demonise motorists and restrict their lawful activities of roads principally constructed for transport, and ensured that the irresponsible behaviour of their members didn’t inflict terror on innocent pedestrians.

No thanks, have enough with schools and 40kmh limits already

ChrisinTurner4:08 pm 04 May 23

Parents might stop driving their kids to school if it was safer to let them ride their bikes.

Gregg Heldon8:39 am 04 May 23

I’m happy with 50kmh thank you.
Plus, if it was reduced to 30, could pedal power guarantee that their subscribers and members would stick to that speed limit too? Or are they only advocating cars to go that slow?

Do not agree

If a family of three can travel on an e-scooter, make it so for bikes

30km/h is way too slow, I’ll easily exceed that on a bicycle. 50 km/h limits are already bad enough and barely tolerable. One is required to drive safely, which would mean a variation in speed and regular driving/riding tests every 5 years would make more sense.

Making canberra’s weather less extreme would get me on a bike more. I’m sure that sentiment would apply to thousands of others but that’s not possible.

I don’t believe making life harder for motorists is going to make a jot of difference how many people choose to ride. Personally riding along the side of an arterial road is something I actively avoid but I’m not overly worried about riding on a suburban street.

All lower speed limits is going to do is make our air dirtier. Our motorised vehicles will be in lower gears at 30 than they are at 40 or 50, using more fuel and belching out more fumes as a result.

Same for the proposal of adding speed humps at intersections causing vehicles to slow down and then speed up again is a waste of fuel and wear and tear on vehicles.

I ride a bike regularly but I wouldn’t join Pedal power due to their anti motorist ideas.
Maybe if they were more car friendly they would have more members.

As a motorcyclist I don’t undersand their desire to place the responsibility of cyclist safety on everyone except the cyclist.

Damian Davies2:09 pm 03 May 23

15 minute cities and CBDC central bank digital currency are all about government control definitely not about personal freedoms.

Ludicrous that small number of cyclist think they can dictate huge inconvenience for the rest of the population. For many very valid reasons Canberrans drive cars, eg elderly, transporting children, groceries etc. Cyclists would be safer if they used the excellent cycle pathways and followed road rules. Anyway the whole argument for getting cars off the road is becoming invalid as our population rapidly takes up driving electric vehicles.

How did the push bike lobby get so powerful in this City? They already have $100millions worth of paths and lanes, have never contributed any revenue but always want more. They are the infrastructure parasites of the transport system.

Rates and taxes pay for roads, just like they pay for ‘bike paths’.

Once you factor in costs like damages to road infrastructure caused by motor vehicles and the medical treatment costs for road trauma caused by motorists it’s pretty clear who the real parasites are.

The roads are paid for by fuel tax and other charges paid by motorists. The only parasitising comes from heavy vehicles which pay a lower fuel tax even though they are responsible for most vehicle-induced road degradation.

The health costs are significantly defrayed through the mandatory insurance, unlike many other problematic health fields.

Steve Surrey1:16 pm 03 May 23

This should in no way be considered! One of the hardest thing for a driver is to concentrate on not exceeding speed limits. The lower the speed, the more difficult (to impossible it becomes). Even the intersections in the City are 40kph which is at least appropriate for these damn scooters flying all over the place. Driving through an intersection starts before you enter it, making sure no one has run a red light, checking for foot and mobile device traffic …… all while your full concentration and eyes are predominately looking at that damn speedo to make sure you don’t slip over by a couple of KPH and get a $300 fine. Reducing to 30Kph will be just a revenue bonanza for the Government. Choose whether you want Scooters, Skate boards, and all kinds of electric wheeled devices or motor vehicles because the two together spells disaster. If/when vehicles are all fitted with geofencing speed limiters – then maybe come back and look at reducing speed to 30kph!

What a load of crock, seriously , why don’t we just ban cars , ? why should anyone listen to a group of people who account for ?% of road users, this is beyond stupid ..

Why some action is warranted. Courtesy of Bing:
According to a report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the rate of hospitalization for cyclists increased by 1.5% per year over the 17-year period from 1999-2000 to 2015-16. Even more concerning, in the last six years of the report, the increase was 4.4% per year. In comparison, the rate of hospitalization for other road users is going down. For motor vehicle occupants, it fell by 1.3%; for pedestrians, the drop was 2.2% .
Two references worth looking at.

Stats can be made to say anything. How many of the cyclists’ injuries and deaths are directly and solely attributed to the actions of a driver?

I’ll happily agree to a 30kmh speed limit in the suburbs when all cyclists start to obey the road rules – not going through red lights would be a good start.

JS – MAMIL are exempt

FP – now there’s a species I’d like to see join the extinct list


I’d like to see cyclists use the cycle lanes instead of making life difficult for pedestrians on footpaths. When they ride on the road and cross at the traffic lights, they need to learn not to cut off pedestrians trying to get across the road before the lights change.

When they ride on footpaths they need to follow the rules, giving way to pedestrians and riding to a speed limit of no more than 10km when passing them to ensure they don’t terrify children, dogs and elderly or less mobile adults. Where there are no footpaths, bikes & scooters create ridges in the walking tracks so people cannot walk on them.

Plenty has been spent on bike infrastructure, so how about a bit more for pedestrians as almost every person is a pedestrian at some time or another. Many just want to be able to walk on level ground, but paths suddenly end or are never created in so many suburbs including those where rates are high. Then lets look at pedestrian crossings, so people can get safely across the road. Pedal power whinge & complain despite their privileged status in this city. If they were smarter, they’d work with pedestrians instead of against them.

Sounds like a lot of money. Maybe they should bring in registration for cyclists to pay for it.

And insurance, so when they injure pedestrians they can be identified and claims made for injuries and medical costs.

When I do drive anywhere in Canberra, I barely see cyclists on the road, so reducing the speed limit to 30kmh is not going to make it safer for cyclists.

15 minute walk or cycle to the nearest services would require many more such services to be built. How are these going to be sustainable?

These are only a couple of the issues with the submission. More importantly, the negative attitude towards cars needs to stop – they are not the root of all evil. However, I’ve had enough examples where cyclists haven’t helped themselves either – running lights and crossing in front of me, both when I’ve been driving and walking.

There needs to be a balance of transport options in this city to suit the majority of residents’ circumstances. Making it harder or more time consuming to travel by car is unfair and therefore disadvantages some. Not good government policy.

Ah yes, the government stance whereby it is easier to punish the larger demographic to force them into submission than to encourage alternatives. I’ve never understood this “us vs them” attitude when there are better solutions such as building dedicated bike lanes off the roads.

Does that also include for cyclists? I’ve been involved in some scary near misses because of cyclists who pay no attention to pedestrians or who don’t respect pesky things like red lights.

I am a regular cyclist. Over the years Pedal Power ACT have come up with some truly insane ideas, but this one gives insane a whole new meaning.
Every time Pedal Power comes out with their crazy suggestions, that will not and should not be implemented, the only thing they achieve is to increase the animosity towards cyclist from both pedestrians and motorists.

Pedal power wants to ban cars.
Solution. Ban pedal power. You can fit 5 people without bikes into the space of a single bicycle.
Cyclists hit and kill pedestrians much more per kg of moving object than cars do. We also spent an astronomical $100 on raising London circuit alone for bikes and duplicate both paths 5 metres from onroad cycle lanes. The waste never stops.

Steven Green8:43 am 03 May 23

Really? This is news to me. I have never heard of a pedestrian ever being killed by a cyclist in Canberra. Raising London circuit is for the light rail.

GrumpyGrandpa7:09 pm 02 May 23

30 km/h in suburban areas to encourage more people to take up cycling!

Seriously? What a ridiculous brain fart. We’d have cars, buses and garbage trucks driving around in 2nd gear! It’d be like going back to the days of the horse and sulky.

Why not reduce the speed limit to 5km/h? That would encourage walking!

HiddenDragon6:51 pm 02 May 23

If suburban streets throughout Canberra (not just in a few inner north enclaves where it might make sense for parts of the day on weekdays which aren’t public holidays) are to be morphed into cycle paths on which motorised vehicles are grudgingly tolerated, then all of the corollaries of that need to ensue.

This would include registration of bikes with fees for that and third party insurance premiums, licensing of riders and enforcement of speed limits and other road rules – with equal penalties – for cyclists and drivers of motorised vehicles.

It would also mean that cyclists should only be tolerated on what are now shared pedestrian/cycle paths if there is no nearby suburban road alternative and where that is the case, the sorts of measures which Pedal Power wants to protect cyclists on roads should introduced to protect pedestrians from cyclists – starting with speed limits which most cyclists would find uncomfortably slow, but which might encourage more people to walk (a survey to support that view could easily be arranged)

Pedal Power is one of the lobby groups which the ACT Labor/Green government has cultivated and indulged over many years, but this latest try on really does look like they have mistaken the last straw but one.

It’s not possible to get the government to enforce any of the road rules we already have so it seems a bit pointless to legislate any more. Repeated complaints about cars parked in the bike lanes are met with a response that it’s really just not that dangerous to have to swerve out into the traffic so they won’t do anything about it.

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